Introverts


Hello, my name is Jim and I’m an introvert.

If you know me or ever met me, I doubt you would suspect that I am really an introvert.

I’m outgoing. I like people. I like to socialize. I like to go out to dinner, theatre, concerts, or other events. I am comfortable making presentations to large groups (and do so a regular basis). I meaningfully contribute in meetings.

So, how do I know I’m an introvert? A psychologist friend of mine offered me a simple test. He asked how I recharged my personal energy. If I was feeling tired and drained would I rather go out with people and socialize or did I prefer to be alone doing something of personal interest? My answer was the latter.

It can be much harder for some introverts, who are more uncomfortable in front of crowds or in socials situations. Take Kristen Stewart, the actress who played Joan Jett in the film The Runaways and portrays Bella Swan in Twilight and the sequels.

With wonderful performances in both independent and blockbuster films, Ms. Stewart is clearly a skilled and even gifted actress. When it comes to events related to the film industry – accepting awards, public appearances and doing interviews – she can be uncomfortable and awkward.

In the an interview published in the June 2010 issue of ELLE, Ms. Stewart acknowledged being an introvert when she discussed the loss of privacy that comes with fame, “I can’t be by myself, and I like being by myself.” Be aware that the full ELLE article may be not safe for work (NSFW) due to language.

Like many other introverts I know, Ms. Stewart is getting strong criticism for being uncomfortable in certain situations. Here’s a short except from the ELLE article:

What’s mystifying to Stewart — and likely to anyone with either a shred of empathy or a tendency to clam up in public — is the looking-glass reality in which her manner, rather than eliciting sympathy or mere shrugs, has made her a figure of derision. “I think it’s funny that when I go onstage to accept an award, they think I’m nervous, uncomfortable, and awkward — and I am — but those are bad words for them,” Stewart says. She still frets about her MTV Movie Awards appearance last year, during which she fumbled her award, a carton of golden popcorn (then blurted, “I was just about as awkward as you thought I was going to be. Bye!”).

Writing on the Introverts Corner blog for Psychology Today, Sophia Dembling compiled a list of some thoughts that annoy introverts.

She’s stuck up.Just ‘cause I’m not chattering at anyone within earshot, it doesn’t necessarily follow that I have judged people and found them wanting. Maybe I just don’t have anything to say at the moment. And really now, who’s judging whom here?

You don’t know how to have fun.I know how to have fun. It just doesn’t involve crowds, high decibels, or costumes. Maybe you’re the one who doesn’t know how to have fun–d’ja ever think about that?

You hate people.I do not. I like people, especially people I like. But even those I prefer in small numbers and controlled doses.

You’re not an introvert.Maybe I’m not what you think an introvert is, but if you’ll … let me explain, I’ll tell you what makes me an introvert.

Ms. Dembling’s full blog post is available here. Be aware there is some language that is NSFW.

If you interested in taking a short test to measure how introverted or extroverted you are, try this one by Susan Cain on the Psychology Today blog.

If you’re an introvert, what sort of comments do you hear about your desire (at times) to be alone? If you’re an extrovert, how do you engage and interact with introverts? Please add your thoughts by posting a comment.

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